Inspiring brands sell better than good products ever will


There are many good products. They are all too few inspiring brands. Make sure you know the difference, writes Javier Sanchez Lamelas

People outside the marketing profession too easily confuse brands with products. Mistaking brands for commercial names is also common – even among marketing professionals. These are serious errors that lead to wrong business decisions. In the worst cases, they destroy value for companies… in the best case it makes marketing investments terribly ineffective.

People buy products: shoes, watches, cars, phones. But the incremental value – the extra price we all are willing to pay for emotional benefits – comes from brands. And that´s precisely where the power of Marketing (with capital M) resides: in the ability to create a magical bond between values and feelings with products or services. This is the process of brand creation. Brands make us fall in love beyond the rationality of the product. That way we pay a premium for Louboutin shoes (pictured), Rolex watches, Audi cars, iPhones – or even a Coca-Cola.

Brands are not commercial names. A commercial name empty of emotional meaning is just that – a name. And people don’t pay extra for names. That’s why the idea of investing in name awareness – wrongly called brand awareness – is a very ineffective way of producing marketing. Such an approach demonstrates a lack of ideas and a dearth of know-how.

Marketing investments with positive returns do not talk about products. Or at least, they do not only talk about products. Today people have plenty of means to know about product utility… Marketing based on ‘I do it better’ works poorly. And the one based in ‘do as I do’ (imitation), works more poorly still.

Effective marketing investments are about human values. Human values make brands grow in size and meaning. It is marketing by ‘inspiration’. It is work that takes time – requiring high doses of creativity, consistency and technique.

Far more important than having big budgets, large marketing departments and sophisticated media and social networking is to understand this critical point.


Javier Sanchez Lamelas is founder and chief executive of the TOP LINE M-ART-KETING Global Consulting. He is formerly Vice President Marketing Europe for The Coca-Cola Company